There’s another state school crashing the top of the Hockey East standings.
While much of this season’s focus has been on UMass’s meteoric rise in the national rankings, UMass Lowell (17-8-2, 11-4-2) has gone on an impressive 9-0-1 run to vault into second place in the conference as well as being ranked 10th nationally.
The two wins last weekend may have been the most impressive, as the River Hawks posted consecutive shutouts over Boston College and UMass at Tsongas Arena. Coach Norm Bazin talked about the challenge of keeping the streak alive in conference play after the win over the Minutemen.
“We knew we were facing two great teams,” said Bazin. “BC was coming off a Beanpot win [over Harvard], which they looked pretty good doing, and UMass seems to be the premier team in the league here from the start of the season on.”
It was the second time this season the River Hawks prevailed over UMass (21-6-0, 13-4-0), and they are the only team to defeat the third-ranked Minutemen twice this season, the first coming when they kicked off the unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win at Amherst Jan. 4.
“We played them once before, and we kind of have an understanding of what they can bring,” said Bazin. “They’ve got an awful lot of speed and skill, and they come at you in waves.”
The back-to-back shutouts were the first for the program since the 2014 Hockey East Championship weekend, when UMass Lowell rolled all the way to the Frozen Four.
Junior Tyler Wall (9-6-1, .933 save percentage) stopped 28 shots in a 3-0 win over the Eagles Friday, and senior Christoffer Hernberg (8-2-1, .914) made 31 saves to defeat UMass, 2-0, for the second time in five weeks. The two were rewarded by being named Hockey East Co-Players of the Week.
“Both kids are playing awfully hard in practice,” said Bazin. “I don’t think you can go wrong. Both are great goalies. Christoffer beat this team at their place, and I came back with him. I didn’t really have any reservation in doing so. Tyler is a heck of a goalie. I thought he was really on point [against BC]. Both are very capable of getting a win.”
The River Hawks will look to keep it going when they face Providence (16-9-5, 9-7-2) in a home-and-home series this weekend.
Bentley streaking, too
The only team with a longer unbeaten streak in Division 1 than UMass Lowell is Bentley (14-11-3, 13-7-2), which has gone 9-0-2 to move all the way from eighth place up to second in the Atlantic Hockey Conference heading into a pair of road games at Niagara. The Falcons have won their last seven, the longest winning streak for the program since moving up to Division 1.
Jonathan Desbiens has goals in eight straight games and scored in overtime Friday to deliver a 3-2 win over Canisius. He has 13 on the season to lead the team.
Aidan Pelino has been in net for the streak, with a .918 save percentage and 1.95 GAA.
Sophomore Luke Santerno leads the team with 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists).
How about Boston University (17-6-7, 13-5-5) winning the Women’s Beanpot for the first time in 38 years? It was also BU’s first time winning the tournament since the program ascended to the varsity level. The Terriers grabbed the title when junior Sammy Davis scored her 22d goal of the season to secure a 3-2 overtime victory over Harvard (10-12-3).
Davis scored the game-winner 14 seconds into a power play to earn MVP honors.
It was an impressive field, as the No. 7 Terriers had to defeat No. 3 Northeastern (21-4-4, 19-2-2) in the semifinal round in a shootout, while Harvard upset three-time defending champ BC (21-10-0, 17-7-0) behind 52 saves from Lindsay Reed, who went on to make 51 saves in the title game.
No. 8 BC defeated the Huskies in the consolation game, 4-1, as last year’s MVP, Daryl Watts, scored twice. Northeastern, BC, and BU occupy the top three spots in Hockey East with just two weekends left in the regular season.
Over on the men’s side, Harvard’s Adam Fox became the first junior defenseman in school history to reach 100 points with his empty-netter against BU.
“He’s a tremendous player,” said coach Ted Donato. “He makes others around him better. He’s poised with the puck. His patience, his playmaking ability, I can’t say enough.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my life to be around some great players. I’ve played with and against some great guys. I think what he’s accomplished so far in college is pretty special. I’m happy that he’s on our team.”Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney.